Some poetry events are just magical! Mix the alchemy of Transatlantic poets writing call and response poems and you are sure to have a cracking reading. The power of hearing these poems performed by each poet was fabulous. Added to the words, the reunion of people, not just across the pond but within our own communities.
I have huge gratitude to every poet in this project. Polly Stretton is a marvel and without her, the gleam wouldn’t have been as bright as it was. I appreciate every ounce of work she has delivered since the summer.
We are currently editing the film for YouTube and then over the next few months will compile a print anthology with Black Pear Press.
It gives me great pleasure to announce a project that has been underway since the summer.
We did it again! Poets from Worcester UK and Worcester USA paired up to write call-and-response poems.
In the original project there was a UK launch and a USA reading, but thanks to the wonders of technology we will all be united on Sunday 30th October, the start time will be 18:00 GMT (UK) and 14:00 EDT (USA) the link for the online event will appear here and on the BPP Facebook Event Page on the day. And yes, that’s definitely 18:00 start time UK, our clocks fall back this weekend!
Black Pear Press are delighted to be part of this project and will host the online event.
Background ~ Every tale starts somewhere.
The Original ATOTC
Back in 2017, when I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I embarked on a huge transatlantic project linking poets in Worcester UK with those in Worcester MA USA.
It was a massive undertaking on both sides of the pond and a wonderful, fulfilling project involving 47 poets. You can read all about it here:
I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.
I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.
The plans I had bore some fruition in 2019 when I produced a show with some of the UK poets, lots of film work and the helpful narration of an American relative, for the Evesham Festival of Words.
It had been booked for the festival in 2018, before the Perth Poetry Festival in Australia and before my stint in hospital and my Annus horribilis. It was not quite the year I thought it would be and neither was 2020.
As our lives moved online I caught up with WCPA crew at some events and thought about joining forces to celebrate the collection again.
Roll on a few years, many poets are still in contact with their partners and one of the UK poets, Polly Stretton, had a conversation about doing just that.
After a few email exchanges with Rodger Martin and Bob Gill, an idea was floated to go beyond meeting online to read our original work… after some discussion we all agreed to repeat the Call & Response project. And ATOTC II was born.
Since then poets from the original team have been paired up to produce a new selection of poems, this time the theme was open and as before, there has been lots of fun! And this time after the reading, my future ideas for A Tale of Two Cities will bear fruit.
A huge thanks to Polly Stretton for all her management skills, for compiling the programme and organising the tech and assisting with the promotion. It has been a blast. Thanks also to Black Pear Press.
And thank you to all the poets in Worcester UK and from WCPA Worcester Massachusetts, for your wonderful partnerships and poems. I cannot wait to celebrate with you all!
Since 2016 I have been fortunate enough to have written endorsements for new collections. It is always an honour to be asked and to be trusted with the m/s, to read it before it’s published and to ultimately string words together which will encourage other’s to buy it from the blurb.
When Peter Sutton approached me in 2021 I was delighted to be one of the poets writing an endorsement for his latest collection. I have known Peter for many years and know what an expert he is on Elgar, I knew this collection would be a m/s I would enjoy. I wasn’t wrong! I read it many times.
Fast forward the publishing process and Peter is ready to launch. I am invited as one of his Guest Readers and all LIVE tickets have SOLD OUT! It will be my first live event since January and I am looking forward to seeing real people, (I still only leave home for work/medical/family visits).
Elmslie House, Malvern – 4pm Sunday 3rd April
You can join the fun online – instructions will appear here tomorrow.
The Facebook event page can be found here. Peter will be joined by guests Sara-Jane Arbury, Nina Lewis and Michael W. Thomas who will also be reading.
Our Guest Writer Kevin Brooke has two publications with Black Pear Press, his latest book ‘Max and Luchia The Game Makers’ published by Black Pear Press launched 23rd September. It is a story about an eleven-year-old dyslexic boy and his sister who travel to a fairy-tale kingdom of dragons, knights, vampires and giants.
Here is Kevin reading an extract from Jimmy Cricket his book for YA published by Black Pear Press in 2014.
Behind every Worcestershire Poet Laureate is a book and 2018 sees the launch of a new one. Heather Wastie was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015-16 and since passing her crown onto Suz Winspear (who in turned passed the crown to me), Heather has been busy touring Idle Women, writing a book of poems for The Ring Project and creating Nationwide adverts… so it is no surprise that this new collection (her 7th book) took a while in the making.
The beautiful cover is designed by Jess Silk.
I was delighted to attend her launch last Saturday 15th September at Park’s Cafe, Droitwich. Apt that we celebrated the launch in the very cafe that features the door which led to the poem/title of the collection. ‘Park’s Cafe Poetry Reading’.
It was a delightfully fun evening which brought back lots of memories and people. Heather loves to collaborate and I found it particularly touching to see the amount of people in the room who were part of some of the projects touched on in this collection. There were also plenty of ‘Mouth & Music’ friends I hadn’t seen for a while and it lovely catching up and conspiring to do some one off event in 2019.
Knowing Heather and her poetry, I knew we were in for a treat… and I wasn’t wrong! The evening was filled with poetry and music, all of Heather’s Guests had appeared in the book in some way.
After brief introductions from Rod Griffiths & Polly Stretton (Black Pear Press) Heather shared poems from Don’t Oil The Hinges.
Sharing with us details of where the poems came from, these context introductions are included in her book. She prefaced every poem with ‘I wouldn’t have written this poem if it were not for…’ and when that came round to Chaucer it had us all chortling!
Heather’s first guest was Sarah Tamar who she used to host Mouth & Music with. We were all delighted to see Sarah again & to hear her poems.
Then Heather’s Idle Women partner in crime Kate Saffin was next, delivering poetry used in the show (from the Idle Women book), delivered with aplomb. Kate blames Heather for getting her writing poetry. She is a talented Theatre maker and performer.
Another feature of a Black Pear Press Launch is the author Q&A, hosted by Tony Judge. His wicked sense of humour left us all aghast as he asked Heather who her favourite collaborator was, we knew he was joking… it was a magical moment when Heather answered. We also heard about her writing process, other work she has been involved in and future plans.
Following an interval we had music from Dave Sutherland, he had set Heather’s poem ‘Carrying the Evening Home’ to music – it was a great sing along and we got to hear one of his own songs too.
Then Sunny Ormonde, an actor from The Archers performed Heather’s poem ‘Dad Was A Fan of The Archers’, which she performs in her one-woman show.
“Needing a poem about local life for my show at Bewdley Festival I discovered Heather’s wonderfully funny poems on line. Immediately smitten, I contacted her and was over the moon when she kindly offered to write a special poem for the show and Dad was a fan of The Archers was born. Nothing could have been more perfect—it was a huge hit and continues to be so.” – Sunny Ormonde
Then Emma Purshouse closed the evening with a brilliant set including a poem she had written about the Canal for Heather & Kate to use in Idle Women. Her performance of it moved the room, we were all in that water. This poem will be included in Emma’s next book.
A well oiled (unlike Paul’s door) and relaxing evening. A most enjoyable launch and I now have my own copy of Heather’s latest book of poems.
42 is a regular monthly feature of the Worcester calendar, featuring prose, poetry and everything between. Currently run by Polly Stretton and hosted by her and a range of Guest MCs, it is normally held on the last Wednesday of the month at Drummonds.
The festival special last year was one of the most popular nights – featuring The Antipoet. They are back again for 2018 and we are delighted.
The theme for open mic sets was Bewitched Worcestershire Inn and despite a tiny bit of research after last night’s event at the Museum, I did not have a chance to pen a poem in advance. So after a whistle stop agenda between work and the gig I managed some scribbles. One of the scribbles turned out okay.
The Antipoet performance was stupendous (as expected)! They entertained us for over an hour and they were also there for the Launch of their book! Yes, a BOOK this year rather than an album. A book with 2 FREE DVDs.
If you have never caught their show, I urge you to do so – they are phenomenal!
This is definitely one of those posts I wish I’d written and posted when it happened a few weeks ago. It was during my 10 Day immersion in the poetry world and there was no spare time. This is a copy of a social media message sent around the right time – I think the over-use of the exclamation mark sums up how ecstatic I was.
A fabulous launch – really good fun! Loved hearing you breathing life into the women between these pages! Delighted to hold a really copy! CONGRATULATIONS! Thanks for asking me to read. I cannot wait for the next one! x
It was a wonderful sunny afternoon when we took off to the city of Worcester to celebrate success with Charley.
There are three factors that made this launch an incredibly exciting time for me;
Knowing about the conception of the project and secretly knowing it was to be published by Black Pear Press. Charley and I went through the publishing process at the same time and were there for each other throughout.
This was the first book I was asked to endorse, along with Luke Kennard. It always will be the first book I endorsed.
Charley asked me (along with Claire Walker, Polly Stretton & Alan Durham) to read at the launch.
Besides all that I would have been excited anyway. Launches are like birthdays, I always get just as enthusiastic for others as I do for my own.
Book Launch, Drummonds Bar, Worcester, 7th May 4pm
It was fun preparing my set and I was able to use the bounty of my NaPoWriMo poems, some with small rewrites.
Polly went first, much to our delight, (the pressure of kicking off the event) and as the publisher (part of the Black Pear Press) it seemed fitting.
I was up next followed in the second half by Claire Walker and Alan Durham. Everyone produced fine sets and performances were top notch.
There was cake, chocolate cake, friends, family & conversation. Perfectly timed with enough space to chat and mingle, hear each other perform and enjoy Charley choosing pieces and talking about the story behind the short stories.
It was simply a lovely, Sunday afternoon. Having resisted the temptation to pre-order my copy, I was happy to queue up and buy my perfectly bound edition of The Women You Were Warned About. I savoured every moment of watching (or trying not to watch) Charley sign it.
I loved the atmosphere of pride and celebration that held the room together, beyond words to watch this happen right before my eyes. There were plenty of faces I recognised and people I knew who had come to celebrate with Charley and on such a sunny day too. Fabulous room full of people all eager to find out just what those warnings were.
I loved listening to and watching the audience reaction to the collection of answers. Charley completed the event with a brave Q & A. Some of the points are still being discussed, weeks later, now that’s how to get a book to linger!
C.S. Barnes is a Worcestershire-based writer and poet who is currently working towards her doctorate in Creative Writing. While Barnes’s interests initially lay exclusively in poetry, her academic studies have seen her experiment with other styles of writing—namely the short story—and, as part of her current degree, Barnes is now working on her first full-length novel.
Alongside her writing endeavours Barnes is also a creative writing tutor. She has worked with primary and secondary school students, all the way through to the undergraduate students at her own university, where she has been tutoring for the past two years.
I have had the most wonderful evening amongst writing friends and discovered some new writers this evening too. The event was a great success and the food – provided by the spouses of the contributors was amazing and a real treat.
My book was signed by 13 of the 14 writers whose work appears in it – Tim wasn’t able to make the event, Tony Judge read an extract from his story though. It was a brilliant idea listening to just 300 words snippets of the stories we have bought. A well produced book too and impressively on lovely silky – you would never believe it was recycled -recycled paper!
And the greatest hope to everyone in the room was the mention of VOLUME 1 on the cover! 🙂
It was great to mingle afterwards and talk to lots of people and meet people for the first time!
And hopefully at the next launch we will also be able to buy book bags and t-shirts with the Black Pear Logo (although I am not sure how Mike’s T-shirt can be created?!) He calls the publishing house by another name!
Two book launches in one week! WOW! I have arrived 🙂 I was invited to this one a while ago and have been looking forward to it for weeks.
Here’s the press release:
The stories in the anthology reflect the diverse talents of people living and writing in Worcestershire, the Black Pear County.
Black Pear Press will regularly publish novels, poetry and short stories, with some of its publications originating from the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe.
We will provide a glass of wine (or alternative) for everyone who attends with some homemade savoury and sweet snacks courtesy of our writers. There will be a 300-word extract from each contributor with the exception of Tim Butler who had a prior engagement. Following the readings there will be book signings. We hope you’ll relax and enjoy a chat with all who’ve been involved 🙂
The writers / readers are:
Tony Judge (reading for Tim Butler)
I am looking forward to it and it should be a fantastic evening. Lots of my new poetry friends have stories in this publication AND they are serving snacks! WOW! I just have to get through work, a meeting with the Estate Agent and rush hour traffic first!
Should be a great night, which of course I will blog about later.